STOWE — The University of Utah Ski Team is in pole position entering Saturday’s fourth and final day of racing at the 2019 NCAA Championships.
Dartmouth’s Katharine Ogden did everything she could to keep the Big Green in the lead, winning Friday’s women’s 15-kilometer classic race for her second national title. But Utah athletes finished second, fourth and seventh in the women’s race to build a half-point lead. The Utes were third, fifth and 13th in the men’s 20k event.
Saturday’s slalom races at Stowe Mountain Resort will determine the overall champ, with Utah hoping to protect its sizeable advantage. The Utes have 426.5 points and will attempt to hold off Colorado (361), Dartmouth (359) and Vermont (350).
If any racers for those four schools fail to finish a slalom run, the implications could be huge. It’s common for big points to occur quickly, with Dartmouth rallying from sixth to first during Thursday’s Alpine action. Dartmouth trailed Utah by 51 points after Day 1 before grabbing the lead. But Utah’s 65.5-point advantage entering the final day is one of the largest in NCAA history, and no team with a bigger lead has ever lost.
Dartmouth is gunning for its fourth overall title and first title since 2007. Vermont earned its sixth championship in 2012, the last year a non-West Region team won. The Utes have claimed 11 crowns, Colorado is a 20-time winner and Denver owns 24 titles.
New Mexico’s Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier won Friday’s men’s race in 55 minutes, 50.6 seconds. The Montreal product gave the Lobos their first men’s title since 2003 and their first classical title.
Katharine Ogden defended her women’s classic crown with a wire-to-wire victory in 46:25.7. The result gave her team 40 points, and the Big Green neutralized a high-octane Utah side by scoring 86 points as a team in the women’s race. Lauren Jortberg (sixth, 48:08.2) contributed 27 points, while Lydia Blanchett (12th, 48:57.7) scored 19 points for Dartmouth.
The only skier to give Ogden a true fight was Utah’s Julia Richter, who grabbed 37 points by placing second in 46:49.1. Rounding out Utah’s 93-point day were Guro Jordheim (fourth, 47:19.8) and Karianne Moe (seventh, 48:09.7). Colorado piled up 73 points in the women’s race. The Buffaloes were led by Hedda Baangman (third, 47:15.2), Christina Rolandsen (10th, 28:20) and Anne Siri Lervik (13th, 49:14.9).
Vermont’s women delivered another stellar effort, racking up 71 points to keep the Cats in title contention. Anna Bizyukova placed fifth for UVM (48:07.7), good enough for 29 points. Following a 29-point offering by Evelina Sutro (ninth, 48:16.6), UVM was boosted by 20 more points from Margie Freed (11th, 48:45.9).
Bizyukova and Sutro hovered around the top 10 all race. They were never more than two seconds apart during eight separate time checks. Freed was the comeback kid for UVM after a mediocre start. She was 33rd at the 2k mark and 34th at 3k. But she moved up to 20th at 5k and made a determined mid-race push, taking over 11th place by the 7k mark. Scoring points for Middlebury were Avery Ellis (18th, 49:40.3), Annika Landis (25th, 50:25.3) and Alexandra Lawson (28th, 50:39.3).
The women’s field thinned out more quickly than the men’s, and the men also dealt with rising temperatures that made waxing difficult. A big lead pack worked together for the majority of the race, with most skiers drafting each other and constantly swapping leads.
UVM’s Ben Ogden, Katharine’s younger brother, secured All-American honors by placing eighth in the men’s race. He was near the front of the pack throughout, falling behind by five seconds at 15k. He was back with the leaders by 17k before losing a few more seconds at the end. He finished in 56:14, giving the Catamounts 23 points.
Vermont’s Bill Harmeyer (20th, 58:04) served up 11 points after beginning the race as the top-seeded competitor. Teammate Finn O’Connell wound up 32nd in 59:19. O’Connell was in sixth place at 3k, but he dropped back to 18th at 5k and was 31st at the 10k checkpoint.
Harmeyer was 14th at 5k, trailing the leaders by 11 seconds. He slipped to 13th by the halfway point but was still only 13 seconds behind first place. The South Burlington athlete was 16th at 13k and 18th at 15k before hanging on at the end.
The Cats finished with 24 points in the men’s race, while Utah dominated with 81 points. Scoring for the Utes were Maximilian Bie (third, 55:57.7), Ola Jordheim (fifth, 56:02.4) and Logan Diekmann (13th, 57:19.3). Colorado recorded 71 points, led by Alvar Johannes Alev (fourth, 56:01.2), Erik Olsvik Dengerud (ninth, 56:51.9) and Logan Diekmann (13th, 57:19.3). Dartmouth picked up 14 points from Callan DeLine (17th, 57:43.3). Gavin McEwen (33rd, 59:23.5) and Adam Glueck (38th, 1:00:31.7) also raced for the Big Green. Competing for Middlebury were Lewis Nottonson (10th, 56:56.4), Peter Wolter (30th, 59:15.7) and Sam Wood (35th, 1:00:05.6).
Saturday’s two-run slalom finale will take place at Stowe Mountain Resort. The men will race at 9 a.m. and noon. The overall finish order will be decided by the women, who race at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. An awards ceremony will begin at 2:30 p.m. Fans can watch the action live on NCAA.com.
Alpine racers for UVM will be Laurence St.-Germain, Paula Moltzan, Mille Graesdal, Max Roeisland and Patrick McConville. Competing for Dartmouth will be Alexa Dlouhy, Stephanie Currie, Patricia Mangan, Tanguy Nef, James Ferri and Waitsfield native Drew Duffy. Utah’s downhill contingent features Kristine Fausa Aasberg, Eirin Linnea Engeset, Roni Remme, Joachim Bakken Lien, Addison Dvoracek and Mark Engle.
TOP 10 WOMEN
1. Katharine Ogden (Dartmouth, 46:25.7) 2. Julia Richter (Utah, 46:49.1) 3. Hedda Baangman (Colorado, 47:15.2) 4. Guro Jordheim (Utah, 47:19.8) 5. Anna Bizyukova (UVM, 48:07.7) 6. Lauren Jortberg (Dartmouth, 48:08.2) 7. Karianne Moe (Utah, 48:09.7) 8. Jasmi Joensuu (Denver, 48:13.2) 9. Evelina Sutro (UVM, 48:16.6) 10. Christina Rolandsen (Colorado, 48:28)
TOP 10 MEN
1. Ricardo I-Bernier (New Mexico, 55:50.6) 2. Sigurd Roenning (Anchorage, 55:56.5) 3. Maximilian Bie (Utah, 55:57.7) 4. Alvar J. Alev (Colorado, 56:01.2) 5. Ola Jordheim (Utah, 56:02.4) 6. Ian Torcia (N. Michigan, 56:05.8) 7. Zak Ketterson (N. Michigan, 56:09.7) 8. Ben Ogden (UVM, 56:14) 9. Erik Olsvik Dengerud (Colorado, 56:51.9) 10. Lewis Nottonson (Middlebury, 56:56.4)